ShortList is supported by you, our amazing readers. When you click through the links on our site and make a purchase we may earn a commission. Learn more

Netflix CEO weighs in on Barbie v Oppenheimer streaming debate

Would the biggest films of 2023 been 'just as big' on the streaming service?

Netflix CEO weighs in on Barbie v Oppenheimer streaming debate

Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos has broken his silence on the success of 2023 releases Barbie and Oppenheimer, with his comments reigniting a fierce debate among fans.

The streaming chief weighed into the debate over the weekend, announcing that two of 2023's biggest cinema releases would have been "just as big" had they been straight-to-streamer films.

He also went on to deny claims that AI is posing a massive threat to creative jobs across Hollywood.

Barbie and Oppenheimer became something of a cultural phenomenon last year, coining the term 'Barbenheimer' courtesy of their overlapping release dates and resulting in something of a blockbuster showdown.

Warner Bros. perfectly pink release Barbie grossed $1.44 billion at the global box office, while Universal’s nuclear release Oppenheimer grossed a huge $951 million in comparison.

“Are there things that just don’t feel like they’re in your wheelhouse right now?” a New York Times reporter asked Sarandos.

Netflix CEO weighs in on Barbie v Oppenheimer streaming debate

The CEO responded: “I don’t think that there’s a clean answer because the best version of something may work really well for Netflix but just hasn’t worked to date.

"There’s some obvious ones, like we don’t do breaking news and that kind of thing, because I think there’s a lot of other outlets for it. People aren’t looking to us for that.”

Noting that both films would have “enjoyed just as big an audience” on the streamer as they did in movie theatres on both sides of the Atlantic, he added: "There’s no reason to believe that the movie itself is better in any size of screen"

It comes as Sarandos announced that Netflix would continue to produce original content alongside licensing theatre hits as part of its longterm stratergy.

Netflix CEO weighs in on Barbie v Oppenheimer streaming debate

Speaking on the future of creative jobs in Hollywood, the streaming service chief added: “I have more faith in humans than that. I really do.

"I don’t believe that an A.I. program is going to write a better screenplay than a great writer, or is going to replace a great performance, or that we won’t be able to tell the difference,” he told the NYT.

He went on to note the appeal of on-the-go viewing and its convenience become an intrinsic part of our culture, with Sarandos adding: "And so I don’t think there’s any reason to believe that certain kinds of movies do or don’t work.

"My son’s an editor. He is 28 years old, and he watched ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ on his phone,” he added.